UC Berkeley's Division of Biological Sciences launches new health and wellness minor

October 21, 2021

Woman biking on campusUC Berkeley has announced the addition of a new health and wellness minor in the College of Letters & Science. This interdisciplinary minor centers on a three-course core, covering the cultural, psychological, and physiological aspects of health and wellness. There are also two upper-division electives, curated from a diverse list of courses that span disciplines from all over campus. Students will have the flexibility and support to tailor a focused course of study in human well-being. Designed in collaboration by Dr. Steven Murray, director of the physical education program, and Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology, this minor demonstrates the positive integration of the social and biological sciences. 

“Today, health and wellness - from both an individual as well as a societal perspective - are as important as ever,” said Murray. “The current pandemic has reemphasized this importance, and Dr. Keltner and I are glad to be at the forefront of developing academic programming in this area. We both hold a strong belief in not only the research in health and wellness but the pedagogical significance of delivering quality instruction to UC Berkeley's undergraduate population.” 

Added Keltner, “Because Berkeley has long had great strength in health, nutrition, exercise physiology, and well-being across different disciplines, we wanted to bring these strengths into one coherent offering.” 

From an evidence-based perspective that is grounded in research, the health and wellness minor will teach students about the history of wellness, its importance and relationship to disease prevention, and the role of the sociocultural, psychological, and physiological factors affecting human health and well-being. This approach reinforces the university’s widespread efforts to facilitate and affirm the mental health and wellness of its students, faculty, and staff. 

“This minor is going to provide a meaningful and deep educational program to undergraduates. It is exciting, especially in these complex times, to pioneer a program that links the domains of health and wellness, enabling one to both examine and internalize the connections between the mind and body,” said Michael Botchan, dean of the Biological Sciences Division.

According to Dr. Murray, the driving intention behind this minor was to provide a dedicated study of the science behind human happiness and wellness from physiological, psychological, and cultural perspectives. “This is such an inspiring and important area of scholarship, and we are extremely glad that we are able to blend the social and biological sciences into a focused area of study,” said Murray. 

Students earning the minor will be well-positioned to find gainful employment in burgeoning health and wellness sectors such as health care, social media, human resources, education, counseling, the fitness industry, and sport. According to the US. Department of Labor, jobs in healthcare-related fields are expected to grow faster than the national average for all occupations between now and 2029. 

“The world is increasingly calling for this expertise to meet the challenges of our times, such as rising anxiety, loneliness, and the diseases of inflammation,” said Keltner. “Our goal is not only to give students the scientific background for the careers emerging in health, tech, and education but also to enable them to live better lives during these complex times. We hope that UC Berkeley students equipped with this minor will go out into their work, family, and community and political lives and promote greater health and wellness.” 

More information about the health and wellness minor is available on the Physical Education program website